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Don’t Let “Excellence” Intimidate You! You Can Be Excellent!

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At one of our Moceanic Office Hours sessions (held for members of The Fundraisingology Lab), I was talking about the disturbing trends in fundraising: Dropping response rates, rising costs, shrinking retention. Then I noted that these are industry-wide numbers; many organizations are doing better than the industry trends, and in fact are moving in the opposite direction — growing, not shrinking.

The difference? Dumb luck? Sometimes that’s it.

But more often, the organizations that are beating the trends are doing excellent fundraising. When you do great work, you won’t be a prisoner of the dismal trends.

Then one of the webinar attendees chimed in with something that stopped me cold: Excellence is so intimidating!

It stopped me because I knew exactly what she meant.

Fundraising is difficult. Complicated. Your boss might interfere with it. Not only that, but fundraising is changing. Quickly. It’s no small task to get your fundraising projects out the door, much less do them with excellence.

So when some dude in a webinar says All you have to do is be excellent, you just might be tempted to say Get real!

It’s a lot easier to talk about excellence than it is to do it.

The inescapable truth is that when you’re new at anything, you’re not very good at it. And anyone, no matter how experienced, can (and does) make mistakes.

Excellence, schmexcellence!

The truth is, excellence can be your secret weapon. But it’s not just a switch you can turn on.

Excellence is a process:

  • You learn as much as you can — through books, blogs, conferences, classes, webinars, and (best of all) mentors.
  • You keep donors in the front of your mind always.
  • You learn to be skeptical of your own and others’ preferences.
  • You do your best to apply what you discover.
  • Most of all, you learn from your mistakes. (If you aren’t making mistakes you are probably not approaching excellence!)

Do those things and you will be excellent. Maybe only a little bit excellent at first, but you’ll keep getting better all the time, as long as you keep on trying. Every small improvement helps — and is the foundation for all the steps that follow.

It’s not easy, but anyone can do it.

So if you’re feeling you are not excellent, not up to the standard, do this: Take a step, even a tiny step, in the direction of excellence. That’s the only way to get there. And that’s how you beat the trends.

Want the best support for your journey to excellence? Join The Fundraisingology Lab. Check it out here.

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  • Jeff Brooks

    Jeff Brooks is a Fundraisingologist at Moceanic. He has more than 30 years of experience in fundraising, and has worked as a writer and creative director on behalf of top nonprofits around the world, including CARE, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Feeding America, and many others.

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